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Experiencing a Dream

Flying the Corsair for the first time

by Marty Case

Copyright 1996 by the Confederate Air Force and Marty Case. All rights reserved.

Originally published in The Dispatch magazine, Volume 21, Number 3, Fall, 1996 edition. If you are interested in subscribing to The Dispatch please write to The Commemorative Air Force, ATTN: Dispatch Editor, PO Box 62000, Midland, TX 79711-2000 or call (432) 563-1000. Reproduced with permission.

Col Marty Case of Euless, Texas, has been a sponsor of the FG-1D Corsair since 1994. Following is a description of how Case learned to fly the Corsair, and how he feels each time he climbs into "Whistling Death."

What's it like to fly the Corsair? It is the nicest airplane that I have ever flown. Compared to the T-6 I checked out in, flying the corsair is like driving a sports car. It's very responsive and fun to fly. Since there are no two-seater Corsairs, I spent a large amount of time memorizing the pilot handbook prior to my first flight, especially all the notes, cautions and warnings.

The preflight is fairly straightforward for the radial engine fighter, except for the main landing gear oleo struts. There should be no "silver" showing. Starting the big Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp R-2800 was the hardest thing for me to get used to. It is not difficult, but technique is very important in obtaining a good start. It's harder to start one of the bigger engines. Tailhook up, flaps up, choke out and I'm ready to taxi to the run-up area. S-turns when taxiing are a must. While the visibility is excellent with the tail up, once the aircraft is on the ground the snake dance is required.

During run-up, I check the generator output, hydraulic pressure, prop control and both magnetos (100 rpm drop maximum). The handbook says any flap setting may be used for takeoff but recommends 20 degrees; so, that is what I use. Fuel boost pump on, mixture to auto-rich, shoulder harness locked and tail wheel locked after lining up on the runway.

It's very hard not to smile as I slowly but steadily move the throttle forward. A slight aft movement of the stick and I'm airborne. The acceleration from 2,000 horsepower is very noticeable in a 10,000 pound airplane.

It is very light on the controls, only needing the pilot to think about moving them, but they seem to move on their own. The roll rate is very fast, probably the fastest of all World War II fighters from any country. No surprises in a stall. There is plenty of warning, and the nose drops straight down unless power is reduced. The airplane is very smooth due to the engine being shock-mounted in this Corsair model -1D and also very quiet as the exhaust outlets are below the wings. It is an absolute delight to fly.

Returning to the field for landing, I can't forget to set six units of right rudder trim (same as takeoff) in case of a go-around. At high power settings, the right rudder will get very heavy if this value is not used. I set the fuel selector to reserve, turn fuel boost on, set it to 2400 rpm, lock the harness and open the canopy. Full power is not needed on go-around even with full flaps. A little nose-up trim at this point will help on the flare. Now I encounter the last of the long list of things to like about the Corsair. The landing gear is extremely soft due to its very long stroke. My first landing was a "grease job." I must be easy on the brakes during the roll-out and clean up the cockpit after clearing the runway.

I fell very lucky to be able to fly a piece of history and hope someday to check out in other World War II fighters. In the meantime, I'll resign myself to flying the Corsair. It's a dirty, ugly job, but hey, somebody's gotta do it.

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